the blog.

AKA a great spot to find marketing advice, inspirational tidbits, and fun articles about the power of story. Enjoy!

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Do something every day that scares you – no thanks!

You can buy t-shirts and mugs and of course there is even a hashtag for Do something every day that scares you. I want no part of that!

Sometimes I wonder if everyone who buys into this philosophy has ever been really scared before? And if they have been really scared what on earth was so attractive? The racing heart, the sweating palms, the ability to not think clearly, being dictated to by adrenaline? Which one of those feelings is your favourite?

Ok, I get it – the cliché is meant to be a motivator but fear is not my motivator.

In fact, I think a good chunk of what is wrong in the world is because we are letting fear guide our decisions. Really important decisions. Fear based politics is having a disastrous effect! I guess that could be a whole other blog!

Let’s get back to business.

Fear based marketing – it works. But it is not sustainable. And besides is that really how you want your customer to feel when they buy your product – afraid that if they don’t buy it some disaster will strike them?

What about your team – do you want your team operating under a veil of fear, because its motivating? Where is the logic in that?

So what if … rather than doing something every day that scares you that instead … you do something every day that brings you joy and helps someone else. Full heart, open mind, focused and in the zone. Does that not sound more enticing than a fear-based motivator?

When we do our genius work – when you feel totally in the zone our heart rate drops, our blood pressure drops, our ideas flow. We are not fighting with ourselves, we are not conquering. It is so much more important than conquering! When we are doing our best work – the work we are meant to do, it is actually easier for our brain. We are more efficient; focus is effortless. We are not concerned about outcome or what others might think of our work. The ego evaporates. There is a quieting of our minds, fear is not driving the car.

What we do best comes more easily to us which makes it easier for us to discount our abilities and say “oh that was nothing”. That can make it hard for us to see what we are best at. We all have something that is easier for us to do, that comes more naturally, and gives us energy rather than takes energy – that is our genius work.

To get to this state takes confidence, and practice.

And it’s fun.

We can’t always be in the zone; some tasks have to be accomplished that are not our genius work. But we can be mindful of managing the percentages. So that more of work falls into the “gives us energy” category than the “takes energy” category

Flow begets flow. When you are lost in the moment, the moment finds you. A study done by Miriam Mosing a neuroscientist at the Karolinska Institute believes that those who spend more time working in the zone maybe also be protecting their own mental health. Her findings indicate that there is a protective effect to the brain when we are in flow. The same cannot be said about the effects of fear.

So, ditch fear.

With a full heart, embrace your genius work. What you do best. That’s what the world needs now!

What happens when you can’t deliver on your brand promise?

I once owned a company named Starstruck, and we manufactured and exported a line of women’s clothing to 320 stores in the US and 120 in Canada.

It is quite a story. 

A big part of that story is that not everything went as planned. Well, to be honest everyday something didn’t go as planned. It was the nature of the beast. Sometimes things went better than we ever could have imagined. (It really did help to be an eternal optimist in the world of manufacturing women’s fashion.)

There are so many stories, but I’ll tell you one in particular. I know exactly where I was standing when the call came in from our fabric supplier. It had been a great day, sales were up, our new line had been well received, our local retail store was humming. It was early afternoon on a sunny spring day; the kind of day that convinces you winter will never come back. I clearly remember feeling like we were on top of our game. 

But, back to the call: our container was stuck in the Pacific Ocean just off the coast of Vancouver. There was a labour strike at the docks. Nothing was moving. There was no foreseeable end in sight, and no one could tell us exactly when we would receive our goods. 

We had tight turnarounds – fashion is like that. What retailer wants a shipment of winter coats in April? 

There were substantial financial ramifications. Some of our bigger department store clients had relentless one-sided terms. Of course we had reluctantly agreed to them because of the significant advantages of being carried by the ‘bigs’. They were essential to our growth. But those sales were a double-edged sword and we were about to feel the sharp side. 

Big retail understands the cost of holding inventory that is not on the sales floor, so deliveries were tightly timed. We were given a 10-day delivery window and every day an order was late we would lose 30% of the value of the order. This business was not for the faint of heart. Likely you have guessed that US department stores did not particularly care about the strike “up in Canada”.

Late deliveries were hard on our smaller retailers too. Although the ‘bigs’ were essential to our growth, the smaller and mid-sized retailers kept us in business – they were always our long game. 

Manufacturing is at the best of times a massive amount of moving parts. The domino effect when one of those parts goes astray, well I can feel the headache all over again.

What hurt the most was late deliveries were so off-brand. This is not what our brand promised. We knew how important it was to be true to our word. “Fashionably late” did not cut it.

We were living in the land of Porter’s Five Forces! I don’t always think that “academic” models actually live very well in the real world, but this smacked of  one of the five forces.

The Porter’s Five Forces model examines five key aspects of your company’s competitiveness. One of the five forces is Supplier Power. Wow, did we find out that our supplier had a lot of power!! Of course long before Porter, our mothers had told us “don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” Always listen to your mother! 

So, I got on the phone to explain that orders would be late.  The true story felt like such a ‘roll your eyes’, dog-ate-my-homework kind of story. I pictured the response, “Seriously this is the line you are going to give us?”  My palms were sweating, I paced as I talked (10,00 steps was not a problem!), my stomach turned. The self-doubt gremlin arrived.  Maybe we weren’t going to make it?

On the other end of the phone the response was not what I expected. 

We had a reputation of living our brand promise. We had made significant deposits. They believed us and more importantly they believed we would do the best we could. It was truly humbling to see the trust they had in us.

They were also truly shocked that we called and owned up. 

What happens when you can’t deliver on your brand promise?

Be transparent. 

Own up. This is not the time for hide-and-seek.

Make it personal.

It’s hard to imagine, but in the toughest of times the strongest relationships are forged. If you can’t deliver on your band promise, it’s a big deal. Recognize that.  Go to the highest rung on the ladder and have whoever that is make the call. It will never be forgotten that you cared that much. 

Take care of your Porter’s Five Forces.

Look at each of the five forces and review the strength of your competitors, supplier power, buyer power, threats of substitution, and threats of new entry. It’s a handy tool to protect your competitiveness. 

As for this ‘drink from the fire hose’ Starstruck tale . . . we made it out alive.  The strength of our brand promise saved us. The strike ended, fabric arrived, we worked like dogs (not like the dog sleeping at my feet right now), to turn raw goods into finished goods, and then into shipped goods.

Then we doubled our number of suppliers.

And went merrily along making more deposits in our brand promise account. (I do love a happy ending)

Five tips for creating a website that tells your story

It is always easier to tell someone else’s story. No wonder people have gossiped for centuries. Talking about someone else is the easy part!

Telling our own story can bring up all kinds of what if’s, not now’s, moments of intense clarity balanced with harrowing bouts of self-doubt. We know; we get it, we just went through it!

Here are some tips we swear by (not that we swear often but sometimes it just happens).

Unlearn boring– this is not the time to play it safe. You can stand out in the marketplace by simply not being boring and telling your own story! There are a zillion boring sites out there. Not being one of them is easier than you think. We are crying out to be fascinated by your story and someone did all the hard work to find you on the endless world wide web so don’t disappoint – it the worst kind of lunch bag let down. No excuses either, it does not matter what industry you are in. Trust me no one wants boring. If Tangerine could make banking seem fun and fresh, and turn a rather stodgy industry on its head so can you! (I mean whoever thought a bank named after my favourite food would be a success!)

Do the hard work. The hard work has nothing to do with fonts, colour palletes or menu bars. Those are important but you don’t have a chance of getting that right if you don’t do the hard work first. What is the hard work? Getting your story straight!! You have known since you were a teenager that not getting your story straight lands you in hot water.

Get started by answering these 3 questions:

  1. Here is the big one – What is your purpose?Why do you do what you do? What is your legacy? What is your impact for social good?

Let your heart and soul answer this question.

  1. What do you do? Here is a hint: this question is never answered with a product number or SKU and the answer has nothing to do with you. After all, we are a rather “me-first centered world”. We actually care less about the product than you might imagine. Because likely someone else has the same or what seems to be a similar type of product. If you can show me that your “what” is exactly what matters to me today, right now and in the future – you have my attention.

Let your visionary, vulnerable self answer this one.

  1. How do you do what you do? You are not like anyone else. DNA proved that long ago so shine a light on your weirdness and show me that your weirdness is just what I need. Let your brand personality fascinate me.

To get at your “How” answer this question: how do you value the bonds between you and your bestie clients or customer?

Let your ‘brave, self aware’ version of yourself answer this.

Answering these 3 questions forms a benevolent triad. Benevolent triads are steeped in trust.

Trust is the cornerstone of sustainable business.

So let it rip.

Be irresistible; show us your why, your what and your how. Live your story, the one no one else can live. Trust me we are gonna love you for it!

Hold onto your socks we have a new website!!!

I totally had new website envy!!

I have had it before; it is a bit of an occupational hazard. My pulse quickens, my head starts swirling in a “what if” dream like state, and I get restless. It is an upside down kind of restless. This feeling seems to be part of my creative process. Some might call that same process procrastination, but I am sticking to my story, okay?

We have created some great new sites lately for fabulous businesses making waves in the marketplace. And I wanted that “new” feeling!  Truth be told, I like new things. 🙂

Each new story, each new site demands the same thing from us – sparkling clarity that changes the game (which incidentally is my personal tagline). If you would like your very own tagline check out our BRAND EVOLUTION workshop and we will get you one. Let us know if you think we have delivered, because wow, we really want to.

We are doing things differently and we couldn’t wait to share our bold approach with you. 

We were also re-committing to what we believe so strongly in: the power of story, and the power of purpose-driven brands. 

Our process is an undeniable, transformational approach to sustainable growth. Creating this site felt a bit like renewing our vows. Eyes wide open, years of expertise, focused on the future, and a burning red-hot desire to help others live their story and grow their business.

So please come with me, put on your comfy socks and wander through our new site, because while I was writing this, I was thinking of you and why it so important for you to own your story, so you can own the marketplace, and change the world.

The world needs changing and we think you are perfectly suited to do just that.

Let’s leverage your greatest asset – your story, and create a truly purpose-driven brand. I am right here waiting for you…. restlessly waiting, as you would expect.

Find me here: click to EMAIL

Mentoring works. Plain and simple.

We have just wrapped up the 6 month Mentoring For Growth program for WESK.I had the honour of designing and facilitating the program.

Sometimes something just hits you between the gut and the heart and you know that something big just happened. Well something big happened.

18 audacious, bright, committed, open hearted women business owners gathered once a month committed to growing their business and helping others to do the same.

And grow they did.

From the first meeting the boardroom at Path Cowork buzzed with the air of possibility.

Each monthly 2 hour session included some pre work, a guided framework for discussion and then break-out sessions that got to the heart of what each business owner needed help with now. Participants were both mentor and mentee, drawing on the collective wisdom and support of the group.

We were inspired by guest speakers who are out there now making their way and growing their own businesses. We heard about their challenges, triumphs, missed opportunities, and their ‘what is next’ dreams. How could we not love up that kind of inspiration! We soaked up their advice, their energy and their encouragement.

Some big goals were set back in January and in June we toasted our achievements: e-commerce sites were launched, expansions happened, strategic plans put in place, operations fine-tuned, taxes were paid, clarity, alignment and focus happened. Confidence happened.  And baby Leo was born!

And we are just as excited about the challenges ahead because we know there are 18 strong women who have our back and are cheering us on as we figure it out.

For the last session we asked each participant to share one piece of advice and a book that inspired them. This will be passed along to the next Mentoring for Growth session that begins in September.  Weaving the spirit, hopes and dreams of this session into the next. Quite a beautiful way to demonstrate that supporting each other in business is a movement not just a program.

Mentoring works. Plain and simple.

I was very humbled by this fabulous opportunity. I have always believed in the philosophy that it takes a village to raise a child and I certainly believe that it takes a village to raise a business.

I am so thankful for this village and I hope you find your own village that supports you as you build your business. A special shout out to Mona Bates the WESK manager who makes things happen! Her commitment to the ideals of this program, her calm and steady “we’ve got this” attitude is what put those 18 women business owners in the room every month. Her leadership bravely built this community and that is indeed something to be thankful for.

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